Photos: The evolution of Soundset

by

Soundset 2018
Soundset 2018 (Emmet Kowler for MPR)

A skateboard suspended in mid-air; Lizzo and her Big Grrrls twerking onstage; Doomtree's members clutching microphones in a crowded tent. These are just a few of the images that showcase the range of activity encapsulated in Soundset. Over the past two decades, Soundset has grown from a Lake Street warehouse party to one of the largest hip-hop festivals in the country.

This year's Soundset takes place on May 26 at the Minnesota State Fair Grounds. But the festival hasn't always looked like it does today.

After assembling a line-up of hip-hop acts for a warehouse party in 1997, and then hosting a weekly Soundset showcase at First Avenue, members of Minneapolis indie label Rhymesayers Entertainment hosted the first Soundset festival in May 2008. The festival has changed locations over the years, from the parking lot outside Minneapolis's old Metrodome, to Canterbury Park in Shakopee, and now the State Fairgrounds outside St. Paul.

Soundset has booked some of hip-hop's biggest names, catching many artists before they catapulted to fame. Past performers include Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, Kendrick Lamar, Mac Miller, and Lizzo, just to name a few. But even while hosting national acts, Soundset has always showcased Minnesotan artists, from Brother Ali to Doomtree.

Soundset isn't just a music festival — on top of booking dozens of musicians, the festival also features live painting, skateboarding, b-boy and b-girl dance battles, and a car show. Some years have brought rain, others sweltering heat, but each May Soundset packs in a crowd to experience one full day of music and hip-hop culture. To take a look back at Soundset's evolution, we put together a photo gallery of some of the festival's most memorable moments.

This photo gallery is a bonus feature of The Current Rewind, a brand-new podcast putting music's unsung stories on the map.

Listen on Apple PodcastsSubscribe: Apple Podcasts, NPR One, RSS, Spotify, Stitcher

The Current Rewind is made possible in part by the Minnesota Legacy Amendment's Arts and Culture Heritage Fund.

Related Stories

  • The Current Rewind: Soundset, Rhymesayers, and the power of going for it In this episode of 'The Current Rewind,' we find out how Soundset grew from a warehouse rave to, at one point, the biggest hip-hop festival in the country.
  • The other stars of Soundset: Live painters and skateboarders Most people know Soundset for its music &#8212 the festival draws tens of thousands of people to the Minnesota State Fairgrounds, and it has hosted big names like Lauryn Hill, Future, and Atmosphere. But the festival brings more than just music to the Twin Cities. Every year, skateboarders, painters, car enthusiasts, B-boys, and B-girls gather to celebrate hip-hop through sports, dancing, and art.
  • Playlist: Soundset alumni When Rhymesayers founded Soundset, they didn't just create a hip-hop festival — they launched a platform to highlight Minnesota's musical talent and connect local artists with hip-hop legends from across the country. To take a look back at the label's presence at the festival, we put together a playlist of Rhymesayers artists that have played at Soundset, from 2008 to now.

25 Photos

  • Brother Ali performing at Soundset 2010 in a custom MN Twins jersey
    Brother Ali performing at Soundset 2010 in a custom MN Twins jersey (Eamon Coyne for MPR)
  • Eyedea performing at Soundset 2010 with Eyedea & the Abilities
    Eyedea performing at Soundset 2010 with Eyedea & the Abilities (Eamon Coyne for MPR)
  • Live painting at Soundset 2012
    Live painting at Soundset 2012 (Eamon Coyne for MPR)
  • Kendrick Lamar smiling at Soundset 2012
    Kendrick Lamar smiling at Soundset 2012 (Eamon Coyne for MPR)
  • Macklemore takes on the crowd at Soundset 2012
    Macklemore takes on the crowd at Soundset 2012 (Ben Clark for MPR)
  • Cars on display at Soundset 2012
    Cars on display at Soundset 2012 (Ben Clark for MPR)
  • Crowds gather in Shakopee's Canterbury Park at Soundset 2012
    Crowds gather in Shakopee's Canterbury Park at Soundset 2012 (Ben Clark for MPR)
  • Mac Miller onstage at Soundset 2013
    Mac Miller onstage at Soundset 2013 (Eamon Coyne for MPR)
  • Atmosphere performing at Soundset 2015
    Atmosphere performing at Soundset 2015 (Bridget Bennett for MPR)
  • Lizzo and her Big Grrrls at Soundset 2016
    Lizzo and her Big Grrrls at Soundset 2016 (Emmet Kowler for MPR)
  • Anderson .Paak performing at Soundset 2016
    Anderson .Paak performing at Soundset 2016 (Emmet Kowler for MPR)
  • Crowds visiting the Fifth Element Tent at Soundset 2016.
    Crowds visiting the Fifth Element Tent at Soundset 2016. (Emmet Kowler for MPR)
  • Doomtree at Soundset 2016
    Doomtree at Soundset 2016 (Emmet Kowler for MPR)
  • Crowds fill the State Fairgrounds for Soundset 2016
    Crowds fill the State Fairgrounds for Soundset 2016 (Emmet Kowler for MPR)
  • B-boy battle at Soundset 2017
    B-boy battle at Soundset 2017 (Nancy Musinguzi for MPR)
  • Lauryn Hill performing at Soundset 2017
    Painting in progress at Soundset 2017 (Nancy Musinguzi for MPR)
  • Live painting at Soundset 2017
    Live painting at Soundset 2017 (Nancy Musinguzi for MPR)
  • DJ Keezy, Sophia Eris, and Manchita in the crowd at Soundset 2017
    DJ Keezy, Sophia Eris, and Manchita in the crowd at Soundset 2017 (Nancy Musinguzi for MPR)
  • A skateboarder mid-air at Soundset 2017
    A skateboarder mid-air at Soundset 2017 (Nancy Musinguzi for MPR)
  • Soundset 2018
    Erykah Badu performs at Soundset 2018 (Emmet Kowler for MPR)
  • Soundset 2018
    Crowds hit the water refill station at Soundset 2018 (Emmet Kowler for MPR)
  • Soundset 2018
    Fans dance in the Essential Elements stage at Soundset 2018 (Emmet Kowler for MPR)
  • Soundset 2018
    Jaden Smith performs at Soundset 2018 (Emmet Kowler for MPR)
  • Soundset 2018
    Manchita (left) and Sophia Eris (right) perform new song "Klits To The Pit" during DJ Rowsheen's set at Soundset 2018 (Emmet Kowler for MPR)
  • Soundset 2018
    Migos fire off confetti at Soundset 2018 (Emmet Kowler for MPR)

comments powered by Disqus